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Common Sense CA merging with Davenport Institute at Pepperdine

NCDD member Pete Peterson invited me to share some big news with the NCDD network.  Common Sense California is merging with the Davenport Institute at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy to form the new Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. Pete just started as its executive director.

Pete feels this will be a great platform to continue CSC’s training, consulting, and grant-making in the area of participatory public problem solving. He sees the connection to Pepperdine is part of a shift happening in policy schools across the country that are realizing that public engagement is a civic “leadership skill,” and one that should be included in curriculum and internship opportunities.

See below for the press release and Pete’s new contact info.

Pete Peterson
Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership
Pepperdine School of Public Policy
(310) 506-8054

Pepperdine School of Public Policy and Common Sense California announce creation of Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership

MALIBU, CA – James R. Wilburn, dean of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, (http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/) and Pete Peterson, executive director of Common Sense California are happy to announce the creation of the new Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership (http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/davenport-institute/). Peterson will assume the role of executive director of the new Davenport Institute, which will be based at the School of Public Policy in Malibu.

Since its founding in 2005, Common Sense California has moved to the forefront of a transformation in governance in the Golden State—one that is more participatory, particularly at the local and regional levels. This shift in the relationship between citizens and our governing institutions is the foundational reason for creating the Davenport Institute of Public Engagement and Civic Leadership.

The new Davenport Institute of Public Engagement and Civic Leadership will continue and expand the three roles assumed originally by Common Sense California in supporting public participation in local policy-making: consulting on projects; funding them through grant programs and relationships with concerned foundations; and promoting the ever-growing field of public engagement through training, writing, and public speaking.

The launch of the new Davenport Institute is a “homecoming” of sorts for Common Sense California, as the School of Public Policy helped support the development of the organization five years ago. David Davenport himself (for whom the Institute is named) was one of Common Sense California’s founding Board members. “After playing a role in its creation, it’s great to welcome Common Sense California back after it has made such a name for itself around the state,” noted Wilburn, “We look forward to seeing their work in training and supporting public engagement grow through the development of the Davenport Institute.”

The new Davenport Institute seeks to become the foremost training and educational resource for current and future civic and municipal leaders endeavoring to gain competencies in the essential leadership skill for the coming decades: engaging the public in order to solve increasingly difficult policy problems. “We are extremely excited about the new public engagement training and consulting opportunities open to us through the creation of this new institute,” said Peterson. He continued, “If these last few years have taught us anything, it is that local and regional leaders throughout California are confronting more and more difficult policy decisions in new and creative ways, reaching out to their residents for ideas and actual participation in ‘common sense’ solutions. Through the new Davenport Institute we will continue to support them as they lead in the ‘new normal’ of tight budgets and tough land use decisions,”

Academically, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership embarks on a unique direction as a university-based organization that focuses its public engagement training and consulting at the city and regional levels. “Both Common Sense California, and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy have shared an abiding interest in having citizens take on the vital tasks of self governance,” said Dean Wilburn, “the new Davenport Institute plays a practical role in realizing this ideal in local governments throughout California and the country, while also providing our students with the opportunity to learn about these efforts firsthand from practitioners and public officials.”

At its foundation, the new Davenport Institute of Public Engagement and Civic Leadership will seek to answer the most fundamental public policy question in a democratic republic: How can our governing institutions and the citizens they represent work together to solve public problems—practicing effective governance while engendering self governance? The “new normal” has made finding real answers to this question more important than ever.

Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy (http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/) is built on a distinctive philosophy of nurturing leaders to use the tools of analysis and policy design to effect successful implementation and real change. This requires critical insights balanced with personal moral certainties that only a broad exposure to great ideas, courageous thinkers, and extraordinary leaders can encourage. It prepares graduates for careers as leaders and seeks also to strengthen the institutions which lie between the federal government and the individual, including the family, religious organizations, volunteer associations, local and regional government, and nonprofit organizations.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Congratulations. Steve Weiner and his colleagues came up with a great idea to fill an urgent need in our broken polity in foudning Common Sense CA. The merger brings real horsepower.
    Stephen Davenport (The shared name is a coincidence. I’m not related but I am now a fan.)

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